You can already use Google Pay in Malta!

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll know that Apple Pay is now supported in Malta, through Revolut. But little did Android users know that Google Pay has been supported by Revolut for more than a year now!

According to an article on Android Police, around mid-July 2018, Revolut rolled out support for Google Pay. This means that using any NFC enabled Android device, you can start paying locally with your phone!

What is Revolut?

Revolut is an online bank based in the UK – you can get a free debit card to be used locally and comes with a great Android app. It’s the only card that works with Google Pay in Malta – BOV, HSBC, BNF and any other local bank do not support Google Pay, so Revolut is your only choice in this case. You can sign up with Revolut for free here (note that with each successful sign-up, I get a small kick-back, as described here).

How to I get Google Pay?

Easy – using your Android Phone, just search for Google Pay on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.walletnfcrel

Can’t find the app on the store, or it says something like “This app is incompatible with all of your devices”? Just download the APK from some APK Mirror, like https://apkpure.com/google-pay-pay-with-your-phone-and-send-cash/com.google.android.apps.walletnfcrel. Of course, side-loading applications can be risky so proceed with caution.

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How do I add my card?

Adding the card is very easy – just follow the setup on screen. If you ever used your Revolut card with Google, you’ll find it right there. If not, just add your details. Have your Card No, Expiry Date and CVV at hand though. You’ll need to confirm a code by SMS as well. No screenshots for this section as Google Pay doesn’t allow you to take screenshots when adding cards. You can find a video guide here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zS6aR22QZM

Anything I should know?

Yes – keep in mind that these transactions are considered Online transactions. Therefore, you’ll need to enable Online Transactions in the Card Security section. Don’t worry, if it’s turned off by default, Revolut will warn you about this.

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How will my transactions appear?

This is the nice part – they will show up like all other transactions. The payment will not be towards Google; it will point to the retailer you’ve just purchased from.

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How can I use Google Pay to pay?

Very easy! Firstly, make sure that NFC is turned on. Then, just unlock your phone and tap the payment machine when the retailer asks you to do so. Your phone will vibrate when you get tour phone close enough and Google Pay will activate itself. You may be asked to verify your identity, such as by supplying a PIN, Fingerprint or lock pattern. By, the way, lock patterns are bad and you should avoid them.

Take that, Apple Pay!

BOV, you’re a good bank, but your app SUCKS!

As Christmas dawns on us, most of us go out to do the usual Christmas shopping. As of this year, I’ve decided to ditch using cash (where possible) and only use bank cards when shopping. Sounds great right? Well, almost.

I am a BOV customer and I got two main accounts with them: a Cashlink account (where my wage is deposited) and another account, which has a VISA account bound to it. Normally, I only put the money that I’ll be spending on this account, as a safety measure. This means that every time that I need to do a purchase, I use the BOV app to do the transfer. This is where it quickly goes south.

So, last time I was at Valletta doing some shopping, I went to transfer some money to my VISA account. I fired up my BOV app, logged in and bam, “Application Error”. Let’s try again – but now, when I logged in, I got disconnected from my Wi-Fi and got connected on 4G. Great, the connection dropped again! Third time’s the charm! I re-logged in, and was greeted by the beautiful “you are already logged in” message. Needless to say, I had to wait again, switch off my Wi-Fi to make sure I don’t connect to somewhere else and then actually manage to to the transfer. Far more painful than it should be!

Anyway, this was not the first time that I’ve had this issue. Actually I’m surprised when it works the first time round! I’ve been talking about this with my friends on how painful it is and one of my friends introduced me to Revolut. Basically, it’s an online bank which provides you with a very good mobile app and a MasterCard. I’ve ended up replacing my BOV VISA with the MasterCard from Revolut, and I regret nothing. There are multiple advantages to using a alternative bank, but for the scope of this blog, it’s a bit irrelevant.

So, what can BOV do to their app to win me back? Because, in reality I’d still rather do all my banking with BOV rather than an alternative bank, but BOV has so much work to do beforehand.

1) I don’t care if I’m logged in from another location

Why is this a feature in the first place? If I want to manage my money from my BOV app and BOV Internet Banking, so be it! Anyway, this issue happens because you’re disconnected from the BOV app before hitting logout. This is the worst issue of them all if I’m honest.

2) The app is slow

It seems that the app is always sluggish. Why does it take 5-10 seconds to log in and get my balance? Coming to think of it, every screen transition takes about 5-10 seconds! Hey, at least they fixed the issue of waiting a minute on “Checking Security” popup. That wasn’t fun!

3) The UI is STUPID

I got a full HD (1080*1920) screen, but it seems that the BOV app can only use 7% of the screen to place the username and key fields. Why are they so tiny? Even worse, it seems that allowing multiple users to log in from the same app is a bit daft in the first place; it should only ask for my password (and remember my user).

4) The UI is dated

I get the feeling that this application was designed when Android was still in version 2 or 3. The UI is very dated – the way that settings appear reminds me of old Android. By the way, why is the settings tab activated by a tiny hamburger icon, when clearly there’s a LOT of space available?

5) Why am I not allowed to make payments to any IBAN I desire?

I can make payments to my friends (if I got their mobile number), some list of hardcoded shops (I assume vetted by then), top up my phone and that’s it! If I need to make a payment to some IBAN, I cannot do it through the app; I’ll need to use their online portal.

6) Where is fingerprint authentication?

I assume the answer is “they can’t be bothered”. Obviously, since they haven’t done any decent update to the app since like forever, this feature is stuck in oblivion. Before I got my Revolut account, I never appreciated the comfort of logging in using your fingerprint, and believe me, it works GREAT.

7) I’d like more fine-grained security control my cards

We live in 2017, but it seems that BOV is living in 1017. Why I am not allowed to turn my VISA on and off on the fly? While you’re at it, I’d like fine-graned control on swipe payments, ATM and online payments please.

8) Where are the contactless cards?

This is a good one as well, but not related to the app per-se. It seems that although BOV has rolled out contactless cards, I haven’t got one, why’s that? I’ll just assume that I need to go through some hoops and whatnot to get my hands on one. Contactless is AWESOME by the way.

9) Why do pre-authorization payments take days to appear?

I’ve always wondered this. Sometimes payments are pre-authorized rather than an instant withdrawal. When these payments occur, I can only notice this because my book balance is different (less) then my available balance. They’re not written in the statement, for some weird reason. My Revolut account does this and it also notes that this transaction is awaiting confirmation or reversal.

10) Some other features that I’d like

  • A filterable statement, or at least sorted by month
  • Split Bill
  • Request money
  • Freeze card / account

I’m pretty sure that there are a million other things I can nitpick on, but that’s all for now. Until the next one

Security by Obscurity – in real life!

We were discussing security by obscurity in the office today – it’s always a topic that we end up having a laugh at. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read about security by obscurity here.

That’s all fine and funny, until you witness it. Us Maltese just witnessed it, last weekend, with a twist. Instead of being in some poorly written software, this was in a shop. Basically, a local Jewellery shop was robbed by professionals and they removed / deleted all security footage in the process!

You might say that this is not IT related – but I’m afraid that it’s very relevant. This got me thinking – how did they get access to the security footage? Was it there, exposed, just waiting for some person to meddle and delete with the footage? It seemed that these people thought so. Although I don’t have much details on how this was done, I would assume that these shops don’t have another site where these footage are kept just in case accidents like these happen.

So, what do I propose? Simple – it’s a bit illogical to keep the security footage at the same site where it’s being recorded. Ideally, this footage would be (instantly) moved to some off-site storage, making use of the cloud. Is there any provider doing this? A quick Google Search says yes: I’ve found examples such as CamCloud. Of course, I have no idea what the company offers since I’m not affiliated with it.

Given that today’s world is moving to the cloud, I can’t help but wonder if incidents like these can be mitigated by using such cloud services.

Do we really have a lack of developers in Malta?

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the same industry; software development. We were talking about the fact that the more time passes, the more difficult it’s becoming to find some good developers on board to get some work done. The argument was that the company he’s working for had to decline some work due to the fact that they simply do not have enough developers in order to get around and deliver this work within a reasonable time frame.

During the same argument, I’ve also mentioned the fact that we, as developers, are always getting messages on platforms such as LinkedIn in order to attempt to poach us. I understand that these people need to recruit people in order to get their monthly wage; I’m not saying that they should not be doing their job. What I’m saying is that it seems that the amount of demand for developers is higher than the actual amount of developers that are ready to work here in Malta. What’s going on?

At my workplace, I’ve noticed that the typical recruitment that occurs during the summer (recruiting new graduates) did not as well as usual. There were some new faces, but then I discovered that they were actually students / interns, not full timers! It seems that even us, we’re finding it very difficult to get more developers on board with us. We can also talk about the high turnover that’s obviously present, but that’s an argument for another day.

We must then ask another question then: what happened to the new graduates? I have no idea on the amount of graduates per year in Malta, but I’m pretty sure it’s not THAT bad. So, are they being poached by bigger companies (iGaming) with huge salaries? Are they working on their own projects? Or maybe, the new graduates are sub-par to the industry standards and end up un-recruited?